No-go or al-GO-rithims?

Posted: April 10, 2024

How algorithms impact the world around us

 

Have you ever been scrolling through social media and seen an ad about something you had previously been researching? Or perhaps you were having a conversation with a friend about your next big vacation to Arizona, and then Grand Canyon tourism ads started popping up online. Strange coincidence? Likely not! Algorithms are a probable answer to these stories. 

Sophie Winnes, MA Computer Science and Math Instructor defines algorithms as “A process to solve a problem.” Algorithms sift through data to deliver a set of personalized information.

In many cases algorithms are helpful. 

“I think that they can be pretty useful in the context of social media, because they give you what you want and in online shopping, it’s pretty useful to find things that interest you,” said first-year Hans Adams. 

Hans wasn’t the only student to find the positives of algorithms. 

“I think that they can both be used for good and bad in terms of like they can give you more specifics on what you want when you’re scrolling,” said first-year Harry Kirkpatrick.

Although there are many benefits to algorithms, they are still far from a flawless solution every time. For example, have you ever been suggested a bad song on Spotify just because it assumes the genre you’re into?  

“They can be annoying and may even feel a bit invasive, especially if you can’t change the outcome,” said MA Middle School English teacher Joy Johnson.

The bottom line is that the end-user experience is mixed, but they are here to stay. Ultimately this generation has an opportunity to improve their function while maintaining a comfortable level of privacy. 

 

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